The next chapter of the Half-Life story is only available in virtual reality, and there are a host of rabid fans who are going to want to play Half-Life: Alyx without a VR headset. Valve’s Robin Walker – the guy who originally made the Team Fortress mod for Quake – is confident that the modding community will make a no-VR mod for Alyx. But he and I are both here to tell you it probably won’t be as good as the real game.
“Yes, it’s going to happen,” Walker tells Polygon. “I’m fine with it, for the sake of the other members of the team I don’t want to say I encourage you to do it, but it’s going to happen. I think people will then hopefully have an even greater understanding of why we decided to build the product in VR than they do now.”
Walker says that if modders build a mouse-and-keyboard version of Alyx and “say this is just as good, that will teach me a lot. I will realize I’m wrong, and we didn’t get as much as we thought, and I love to know whenever I’m wrong.”
After playing through the game and penning our Half-Life: Alyx review, though, I’m confident that Walker is not wrong. Alyx’s levels are designed around the specific capabilities you have in VR, and a version that strips out those high-fidelity interactions might work, but it won’t be fun. It’d be roughly equivalent to a Mario game with the jumping stripped out.
VR is still out of reach for a big chunk of Half-Life fans, and Valve hopes they check out a Let’s Play, at least, if they can’t pick up a headset right now. You can check out some of the best VR games out there right now if you’re looking to justify a virtual reality investment for yourself.